Tommy Pope sponsors SC bill to combat online sexual exploitation of kids

A York legislator is sponsoring a bill to combat Internet sex crimes targeting children.

State Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, will hold a news conference at the Statehouse in Columbia on Thursday to announce his support of “Alicia’s Law” in the General Assembly.

Named after the victim of an online sexual predator, the bill would provide funding to combat Internet crimes against children.

On New Year’s Day 2002, 13-year-old Alicia Kozakiewicz disappeared outside her Pittsburgh, Pa., home after a family dinner. She was abducted by a 38-year-old man she met online, who locked her in the basement of his Virginia home. She was raped, beaten and tortured for four days, and video of her abuse was posted to the Internet.

Kozakiewicz was rescued after police tracked her abductor through their online chats. She’s since become an advocate for child safety and a spokeswoman for the law now backed in all 50 states by the National Association to Protect Children, the National Sheriff's Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Kozakiewicz, now 27, will attend Thursday’s introduction of the bill, along with S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, who has spearheaded efforts to combat human trafficking in the state, and York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant.

Alicia’s Law will have a short window to pass both chambers before the Legislature ends its biennial session in June.

Pope has announced plans to run for governor in 2018.

Bristow Marchant: 803-329-4062, @BristowatHome